Unplugging The Rebellious Jukebox
At the Future Music Forum, Frukt’s Jack Horner observed that most music genres, and indeed media as a whole, are becoming age agnostic, which means that it is really hard for Generation Edge [i.e. our current pre-teens and adolescents] to find music that they can own, that their mum and dad aren’t going to sing along to too. This is the price to be paid for media and brands having successfully convinced aging 30 and 40 somethings that they are still young at heart and in the pocket. So with no music subculture to cling to Generation Edge has instead gravitated to YouTube stars.
For those not in the target demographic, it can sometimes be difficult to grasp exactly what the creative value is of many YouTubers. But that generational inability to grasp the essence of YouTube talent is exactly the same dynamic that music always had when it was the spearhead for youth rebellion. A kid trying to explain to his mum why Stampy Does Minecraft is worth watching hours on end is simply a 21st century rerun of kids trying to convince their parents of the musical worth of Elvis, the Beatles, the Sex Pistols and so on. That is the entire point of a youth culture – older generations aren’t meant to get it.
I’m not going to go all ‘old man shaking fist’ on this, but it does present interesting challenges for the music industry. First of all, the author’s observation on the effect of music no longer being seen as ‘rebellious’ by teenagers is keen. I’ve long believed that youth-led cultural changes related to music would start to be driven more by technology than sound or style as ubiquitous access to a world of recordings makes genre labels passé. And the fact that the YouTube movement is being driven by content creating peers of ‘Generation Edge’ (ugh – I will shake my fist at that term, actually) is a bit cool and kind of sci-fi, really. Encouraging music integration into this content will probably be key, which would require an open embrace of ‘remix culture‘ by the powers that be. Services like Flipagram seem to be on the cusp.